Not always a pretty view from the top.
It’s not always a pretty view from up here.
Sometimes life at the taller end isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It gets frustrating, painful and on the occasion just plain dangerous.
With tonights splattering of random dribble I want to ramble on a bit about some of the not so great aspects of being tall as a kid. Again, this is in part with my original post after again successfully smacking my head on a doorway.
I can hear the mockery already and the questions of how I could make such as statement, I assure you there are plenty of examples some of which I will provide now.
I will purposely keep this list short as I could go on and on and I’m sure you have episodes of Glee or home and away to watch. Hitting your head, ducking through doorways, finding clothes that fit, cars that are comfortable, seats on planes, the obligatory physical and mental health issues that derive from ones height, The stares and mockery from strangers in the street and the complete inability of people to comprehend that tall people are indeed people too are amongst some of my favorites.
In that list you may laughed at the physical but more so at the mental health issues I mentioned. Anyone that knows me would certainly chuckle and agree that that would indeed answer a lot of questions about me. But it’s one thing that not many people stop to think of.
The physical part of it is reasonably obvious; obviously growing so tall is not going to be without complication. I myself had a lot of health issues when I was younger as it seemed my bones grew so quickly that the rest of my body took years to catch up leaving me rather susceptible to injury and lacking physical prowess. The biggest toll it took was co-ordination. Sounds stupid but my muscles where so outshined by the sheer size of the bones in my body that it made it damn near impossible to work properly. Amusingly I don’t think a lot has changed even though they are now equal. It’s a simple example to kick things off.There are people that are so big and so tall, that their hearts and lungs just cannot cope with the workload put on them to keep massive bodies operating properly and you begin to see issues arise such as heart problems, oxygen consumption and conversion issues, speech impediments and blood pressure problems. Next time you see a tall person panting for breathe, just remember that their bodies are working nearly 5 times harder to keep them operating in the same capacity as a normal person. Andre Rene Roussimoff aka Andre the Giant is one of my childhood heroes who sadly, met his demise through issues such as these.Andre stood over 7’5″ and was loved by millions.he is largely still held accountable for the popularity of American wrestling today.His most notable (and personal favorite)highlight to his career was his staring role in “The Princess Brides” as Fezzik. Even the production of this movie was hampered by Andre having health difficulties. At one point he was in so much pain from yet another growth spurt he could not lift his arms let alone catch a falling princess as he was being asked to do.Andre was born with a form of gigantism known as Acromegaly. Some what rare and perhaps and extreme it highlights what im on about.
To borrow an excerpt from our friends over at Wikipedia “By the late 1980s, André was in constant, near-crippling pain, and his heart struggled to pump blood throughout his massive body.” Not much further on in time Andre sadly passed away in his sleep due to mass congestive heart failure. In other words, his heart could no longer cope with its work load.
There are things like the growing pains, not the show but the incredibly painful ache in your bones you get when they grow too quickly. I would wake many a night as a youngling screaming in pain in what I can only compare to that of perhaps arthritis. The simplicity in which bones would break purely from being much bigger or the malfunctions in your blood from lungs struggling to keep enough oxygen running to ever growing gigantic mass.
The mental difficulties that I speak of (and to which some of you are still laughing) rarely get spoken off let alone thought of. I compare it to that of being the fat kid in school or the one with glasses or braces. Being in grade 7 and being bigger than the grade 12 kids bought its fair share of shit. Everyone got labeled in some way as that how the school yard works; mine was just as obvious and never really went away.
Always in the center of the class photos and having your feet go numb from being wedged into a chapel pew that wasn’t designed for tall people will naturally take its toll at some stage. I’m not saying I had a traumatic school life, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Asides the sporting difficulties, it made it hard to concentrate in class when you were constantly shifting on your seat trying to get comfortable as it was clearly not designed for larger people.
With the constant provoking and comments about my height even from a young age I developed a sense of humor that allowed me to brush most things off. But every now and then when a variant of pain would set in or I was having difficulty in general I used to get frustrated and angry with being so tall. In some respects I became very self conscious of my height and would fear social gatherings as I couldn’t deal with another even of being questioned about my height.. Always being singled out because you’re the first person that is seen be it in sport or when amongst a group of trouble makers and being the obvious stand out, School teachers giving me lectures about me weight and how I needed to fatten up for my weight because it was unhealthy, nearly taking my hand off with a lathe because the safety guard was made to be used at normal height are all amongst famed memories. The automatic presumption by nearly all students and staff alike that I would be on the footy and basketball teams because I was tall was yet another drain. I ended up forming some sort of a complex that I had to play and had to be good because that’s what everyone expected of me. I tried so hard to fulfill this that I wrecked both knees and my back in the process and never played competitively again. I recall being given a cello in music glass and then having the teacher tell me to give it back as it was insulting to the instrument. When I asked him what the hell he was on about, apparently I made the cello look so small I should have thrown it on my shoulder and played it as a fiddle and he wasn’t going to have his concert band look silly.
I remember watching my brother begin to grow around the same age that I shot up and wished that he wouldn’t so that he wouldn’t have to cop the same shit that I did, or have the same painful growing experience that I did. At one point I considered trying to stunt his growth through various methods (none of which apparently prevailed).In hind sight I’m glad he did as we now always have that constant bonding point. But this is surely an indication that it’s not as easy as people think.
For me looking back I realized just how much of a tangled web it was. At the time, being cool and hanging out with your friends and just surviving being a teenager was all it was about. Life revolved around your parents being Nazis n not letting you out at 3am, girls who we noticed all of a sudden had boobs and the ever present problems of hair in funny places. In mine, my brothers and countless other peoples cases it was made that much more difficult by facing problems to do with our height as best we could at the same time.
I don’t claim to know the effect that this kind of stuff had on me. One can only think that it helped to form me into the interesting character that I have become. It may seem like I’m having a cry about something I can do nothing about. But again I only write this so that if you are indeed reading this blog you can hopefully start to see what life is like when you have huge shoes to fill.